Wednesday, April 29, 2009


So I found out that I seem to bleed more when I am tired. And by bleed more I mean that I tend to cut myself is a variety of ways that I don't when I am tired.

I shaved this morning, which was a bad move, many cuts.

I got a paper cut that hurt alot, then didn't bleed for an hour, then started bleeding.

Some scab on my face was bleeding from my helmet-face interaction. or something.

All of these bleedings occurred without me noticing until I looked in a mirror and saw a bunch of crusty blood.

Before I lose a finger tip, I wanted to be able to type this post.

I promise I'll sleep on the regular now.

Swine flu

So I was going to (and might still) write a blog post about the effects of the "regular" flu and then compare that to the "swine" flu.

I haven't really seen a justification for why this flu is so feared versus a "regular" flu. I could imagine a regular flu spreading to many countries very quickly.

Luckily, fark had this headline "Swine flu death toll: 150. Regular flu death toll: 13,000. But don't let that stop the fearmongering panic" and a link to this cnn article. One person has died though, so the article is a bit dated. The central argument is still correct though.

Right now, I believe that if we tracked a "regular" flu, we would be able to get ourselves into a panic frenzy. We don't have vaccines for the "regular" flu either, a couple of years ago they totally guessed wrong on which one would be dominant in the United States and everyone's flu shot was basically worthless.

I hope "swine" flu stays how its been, it seems to be a case of the flu, that is doing its normal thing.

More data from Next Big Future about normal flu deaths.

Friday, April 24, 2009

schools and what you are suppoosed to learn

I was reading Steve Yegge's old blog posts and ran into this one about meta-questions. (lots of good stuff about scope and towers of meta levels of awareness and all that). Basically, you need to do your work, but also be asking sometimes about why you are doing it, or how it fits in with everything. You also need to be asking if you still need to be doing it. I think that is the main thing that students of higher learning are supposed to be learning. I think its what some people mean when they talk about critical thinking. Know the assumptions and test the assumptions regularly.

Stay self-aware dear readers,
-Uniquely Joe

Friday, April 17, 2009

Precise Algorithms

I think that algorithms described in a paper should have accompanying source code.

I was giving a presentation that basically summarized "Laplacian Eigenmaps for Dimensionality Reduction and Data Representation Methods" by Belkin and Niyogi.

I had this bullet point:

  • Nodes i and j are connected by an edge if i is among n nearest
    neighbors of j or j is among n nearest neighbors of i

I made comment about how this was not a symmetric property. A person asked a question about why it was not symmetric.

My answer was basically, its symmetric but depending on how you parse the sentence it can be un-symmetric. One way the OR is part of the algorithm, the other way, the OR is an or in the implementation of the algorithm.

One way is to say:

(defun edgep (i j)
(or (n-nearest-neighbors i j *n*)
(n-nearest-neighbors j i *n*)))

Another way:
define edgep like this,

(defun edgep (i j)
(n-nearest-neighbors i j *n*))

or define edgep like this,

(defun edgep (i j)
(n-nearest-neighbors j i *n*))

So, yeah, if you are describing an algorithm, and there is more than one way to do a step, be clear whether you mean that you can do it two ways, or that they have to OR the results of two sub-steps. I mean, it wasn't that ambiguous. But it shouldn't be able to have multiple interpretations, even if one seems like a stretch, cuz some unsuspecting grad student will find it.

Friday, April 03, 2009


I found a person's mail on the bus yesterday. I was able to quickly find their email and arrange for them to pick it up today from my office.

When he came, I was in the middle of something, the exchange was something like this:

(at the appointed time)
Him: Hello, is Bob there? I am Alice.
Me: I figured. (hands letter)

So the question is, should I have attempted to authenticate that he really was Alice, instead of Mallory? Communication was all via email, the time and place could have been known to Mallory, and I have no clue what Alice looks like.

I finally told myself that the odds of Mallory existing were vanishingly small. If he did exist, then Alice never came by. So I assume the person was Alice.

The one thing that will keep me up at night: is Alice bound in duct tape in some alley somewhere?

So, windows xp embedded sucks

Never. Ever. Try to install windows xp embedded on anything.

Been fighting the process for a few days.

I finally got close, guess what? blue screen of death... I suppose thats good, at least I got that far.

Solution? Use remote desktop into an xp machine that you have access to if/when you need some windows-ness.

Try to install a linux distro on a eee 900? about 10 minutes, mostly to find a usb drive (not counting install time).

Koda yawn

We got some pics of koda (a cat) yawning, I stuck them into a gif for your enjoyment.

Koda Yawn

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Ol' Kink Tail

So I saw Ol' Kink Tail (squirrel) today on the way out to work.

I am not sure what exactly happened to Kink Tail. He had a definite kink in his tail last fall, then the end of his tail fell off. I have two theories, either I shot his tail before I went to stun with the bb gun, or a car ran over the tip of his tail (most likely as I found his tail near the gate).

I thought that he died over the winter, but he didn't. Where the kink tail was, he now has a tuft of white hair.

I'll try and get a picture.


slightly hectic weekend.

Still no catchup on the sleep.

Its very rainy, which is good for the drought and keeping the plants from mating.

I highly recommend going to the park and playing bocce ball and flying a kite. Very good way to end the weekend.